Fox News figures and Republican 2016 hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) are slated to appear alongside Robert Spencer -- one of conservative media's favorite leaders in "Islam bashing" -- at a conference this week, amid cries from Muslim rights groups for Cruz to cancel the engagement.
The Young America's Foundation (YAF) will host the conservative New England Freedom Conference this week in New Hampshire. In addition to Fox Business host John Stossel, Fox contributor Katie Pavlich and Cruz, the event will feature noted extremist Robert Spencer and promised, "If you are interested in public policy, free speech, less government, and a strong national defense, this conference is for you. Along with Senator Ted Cruz, you will hear from Jihad Watch's Robert Spencer about Islamic terrorism and jihad."
Spencer is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center's Extremist Files as "one of America's most prolific and vociferous anti-Muslim propagandists." He's a prominent figure with Jidhad Watch and Stop Islamization of America (SOIA) - two organizations deemed hate groups by SPLC.
Spencer was also described by the Center for American Progress (CAP) in a 2011 report on Islamophobia as one of their five top "misinformation experts." The CAP report highlighted some disturbing facts, including that he and Jihad Watch "were cited 162 times in the nearly 1,500-page manifesto of Anders Breivik, the confessed Norway terrorist who claimed responsibility for killing 76 people, mostly youths," and quotes former Nixon adviser and deputy director of the National Security Council Robert Crane in describing Spencer as "the principal leader... in the new academic field of Islam bashing."
His anti-Islamic rhetoric has solidified Spencer a place as a right-wing media darling, turned to by Fox News and conservative sites like National Review Online as a go-to expert on Islam despite his extreme leanings. Fox turned to Spencer as recently as January to spew Islamophobia during a discussion about the deadly attacks on satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Appearing on Hannity, Spencer cited the "much higher" birth rate of Muslim populations to fearmonger that "Sharia enclaves" will "inevitably grow and continue to grow until, finally, that's all there is."
It is for extremist rhetoric such as this that Muslim advocacy groups like The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) have called on Cruz to cancel his upcoming appearance with Spencer at YAF. In a March 24 press release, the group pointed to the designation of Spencer's organizations as hate groups by the SPLC as one of the reasons why Cruz should step back from the event. "As the first Republican to declare his candidacy for president, CAIR recommends that Senator Cruz reach out to members of the American Muslim and other U.S. minority communities to better understand their issues and concerns, " explained CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw.
From the March 24 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
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Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich suggested that sexual assaults benefit feminists and school administrators politically, and said that "lots of the time" women "make a decision about whether you are going to stop a sexual assault or not," during a campus appearance to discuss how guns can be the "best defense" against sexual assault.
And in an exchange that prompted an audible reaction from the audience, Pavlich offered a sarcastic apology while disagreeing with a woman who shared that she was sexually assaulted as a child.
On March 10, Pavlich delivered a speech called "Sexual Assault on Campus: A Conservative Perspective" at an event organized by Iowa State University's College Republicans chapter, the conservative group Young America's Foundation, and ISU's Committee on Lectures.
During her remarks, Pavlich advanced the evidence-free notion that allowing students to carry concealed guns on college campuses will reduce sexual assault and also argued that the incidence of sexual assaults on college campuses has been exaggerated. (According to academic research, students who carried guns while at college were more likely to report "being victims and perpetrators of physical and sexual violence at college" compared to students who did not.)
Iowa State Daily reported that "Pavlich was met with resistance from multiple ISU students, including a large group of purple-clad students attending the lecture as part of an organized effort called 'Standing up to Katie Pavlich and Rape Culture.'"
After her speech, several survivors of sexual assault challenged Pavlich on her notion that guns will prevent future assaults. An ISU women's studies lecturer later told the student paper that Pavlich's remarks were "incredibly irresponsible" because "[i]t was a 'conservative take on sexual assault,' but it was clear her intent was to advocate for concealed carry laws."
In audio obtained by Media Matters, Pavlich is heard suggesting that the actions of feminists and colleges end up permitting assaults to occur because victims help them push a feminist and "anti-gun" agenda. She also said that "lots of the time" women "make a decision" about whether or not they will be sexually assaulted in the seconds before an attack occurs.
Pavlich makes frequent appearances on Fox News, often as a panelist on daytime show Outnumbered.
Here are four lowlights from Pavlich's Iowa State appearance:
Pavlich claimed that "modern feminism can't survive without victims, so naturally preventing victimhood through self-defense is unacceptable." She then added, "Telling women they don't need self-defense to prevent rape is exactly what moves real rape culture forward because violent criminals can operate without resistance."
Conservative media are reacting to a terrorist threat against Mall of America by calling for people to be allowed to carry concealed guns in more places even though no evidence exists that civilians with concealed carry permits stop mass attacks.
During a February 22 appearance on CNN, Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson told visitors to Minnesota's Mall of America to be "particularly careful," citing a video released by Somalia-based terror group Al-Shabaab that called for an attack on the shopping center. Local law enforcement say there is "no credible threat" to the mall, but that Mall of America has "implemented extra security precautions."
Shoppers visiting Mall of America are not allowed to carry firearms, although one local lawmaker is attempting to change that policy in light of Al-Shabaab's threat. As a reaction to the September 11 terror attacks, Mall of America created its own 150-member counterterrorism security force that is "modeled after similar units in Israel." Local police also have a unit dedicated to the mall.
Conservatives have used the threat to question the mall's no guns policy for shoppers and to push the myth that places where guns are not allowed are particularly dangerous.
On February 24, Outnumbered co-hosts Andrea Tantaros, Stacey Dash, and Kennedy along with guest and Fox News contributor Bo Dietl all endorsed carrying concealed guns in Mall of America. Kennedy suggested that Mall of America is a "gun-free zone" and argued that such an area "really is an invitation" for terrorists. Tantaros falsely suggested that the gunman in the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting was "taken down" with a firearm to advance the carrying of guns. In fact, the shooter in that incident committed suicide.
From the February 23 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Right-wing media rushed to exploit the deadly terrorist attack on a French satirical newspaper in Paris, placing blame on Democrats and citing the tragedy to push for renewed surveillance of U.S. Muslims, discriminatory profiling, looser gun regulations, and stricter immigration laws.
Conservative media are freaking out after Jay Leno canceled an upcoming gig at the gun industry's 2015 trade show, the National Shooting Sports Foundation's (NSSF) SHOT Show, calling the comedian a "coward" who has "no spine." The NSSF had responded to the deadly 2012 school shooting in the association's hometown of Newtown, CT, by opposing all proposed gun safety measures.
Right-wing media reacted with disbelief and outrage at President Obama's post-election speech, in which he said he intends to cooperate with Republicans -- despite Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell making the same claim earlier the same day.
From the October 7 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Fox News personalities claimed that President Obama's efforts to roll back the advance of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria was prompted by the brutal murder of American journalist James Foley. In fact, President Obama authorized limited airstrikes several days before Foley's killing, and worked to train Iraqi and Kurdish forces months before the strikes.
Conservative media began politicizing the first case of Ebola virus diagnosed in the United States almost immediately, speculating as to whether the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could be trusted to contain the virus considering its ties to the Obama administration and about Obama's own role in the diagnosis.
Right-wing media reacted to an ad depicting gun-based domestic violence with the dangerous claim that keeping guns in the home would prevent such attacks. In fact, the presence of a firearm in a home where domestic abuse occurs increases the risk a woman will be murdered.
In an ad released on July 29, gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety depicted the harrowing scene of a domestic abuser breaking into his estranged partner's home and shooting her with a gun. The ad was released to bring attention to a July 30 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the relationship between guns and domestic violence. The Senate is currently considering legislation that would prohibit the purchase of firearms by individuals convicted of stalking and expand the definition of intimate partner violence "to include a dating partner."
Conservative media reacted to the ad by calling it a "mistake" and claiming that it "inadvertently proves why women need guns." Calling firearms "a great equalizer between men and women," National Review Online's Charles C.W. Cooke claimed that "the victim [in the ad] would have been better off with a gun in her hand than with a phone connected to the police department" and charged Everytown with supporting firearms policies that "put vulnerable people in danger." Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich wrote of the domestic violence scene shown in the ad: "All of this could have been prevented if the woman had a firearm in her possession as soon as she saw her ex-husband pounding on the door."
Conservative figures have resorted to linking the 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, to the July 17 crash of Flight MH17, a Malaysia Airlines jetliner reportedly shot down by pro-Russia rebels as it flew over Ukraine, killing nearly 300 people.
This form of exploitation has become commonplace among right-wing talking heads, who have repeatedly attempted to link Benghazi to a variety of unrelated events such as the Chris Christie bridge scandal, Yom Kippur, Monday Night Football, openly gay NFL prospect Michael Sam, the weather, and even the still-missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.
These media figures often invoke Benghazi to attack President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or to deflect scrutiny away from conservatives, and the deadly plane crash in Ukraine presented another opportunity.
Radio host Rush Limbaugh took aim at Obama's response to the plane crash by linking it to the administration's response to the Benghazi attacks. Criticizing Obama for not taking a harsher stance toward Russia and the pro-Russia rebels who reportedly shot down the plane, Limbaugh alleged on his July 21 show, "If we're not going to take action against Benghazi ... we're not going to take action here."
From the June 10 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
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